What God Separates

“What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate.” -Mark 10:9, ESV.

“If a man commits adultery with the wife of his neighbor, both the adulterer and the adulteress shall surely be put to death.” – Leviticus 20:10, ESV.

“For truly, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the Law until all is accomplished.” – Matthew 5:18, ESV


Clearly, Jesus has a high view of marriage. Instead of giving into the permissive interpretation for divorce in his day, he calls everyone back to God’s view about the permanency of the marriage covenant. He teaches us about not seeking to destroy what God has put together–namely, the marriage relationship via divorce.

How does adultery figure into this high view of marriage and Jesus’ restrictive stance on divorce?

I know I struggled on this number early in my separation from my first wife as I desperately wanted her to stay married to me. I took a hard line against divorce. So, my initial reading of passages where Jesus calls out hardness of heart in divorcing was to place the hardness of heart upon the divorce initiating party.

Today, I do not take that same stance.

Adultery changes matters greatly.

This can be seen by looking at the archaic language in Mark 10:9 …”let not man separate” (emphasis mine). Jesus is serious about not abolishing the Law (see Mt 5:18), and the Law is clear about God’s stance on adultery (Lev. 20:10).

God instructed Israel to end two marriages by killing both the adulterer and the adulteress! So, God separates the union, NOT MAN, in the case of adultery. This applied to the Mark 10 passage suggests adultery continues through both the Old and New Testaments to be automatic grounds for divorce. The only difference that I see now with Jesus is that he does not instruct reinforcing the death penalty upon the cheaters. He extends mercy to adulterers and adulteresses just as he does in other areas.

Can marriages be resurrected after adultery? I believe so. However, such are miracles, and an adulterer/adulteress must approach an open door to marriage resurrection as an incredible act of mercy by their faithful partner. Cheaters are not entitled to a second chance, and it took only one act of adultery for them to get the death penalty in the Old Testament, after all. That’s justice according to Scripture.

As long as we continue to teach marriage after adultery is required for faithful spouses, we will teach against the consistent witness in Scripture and buttress the sinfully entitled pride of adulterers/adulteresses.

This helps no one.

Yes, I encourage all to have a high view of marriage. But remember a faithful spouse choosing divorce is simply following through in making official what God declared over in the Old Testament via death.

A cheater ought to be very grateful that we do not live under the Law today!

5 thoughts on “What God Separates”

  1. I am with you that adultery is sin, is evil, is grounds for divorce. I wish forgiveness and reconciliation were seen more as a sign of strength in an individual though, rather than as leniency or as a weakness. If a faithful Christian spouse extends forgiveness to an adulterous spouse, what an incredible witness that is to the power of Christ at work in their heart to be able to forgive the grievance. Can you imagine if Christians were known as people who take adultery seriously AND YET when the sin is committed can reconcile, regardless of who was at fault and who is ‘deserving’ of forgiveness? I am so thankful that God extended mercy to save me from slavery to sin when I was LIVING in sin and deserved the punishment of death!

    1. Lightningjack,

      Reconciliation is a grace–i.e. an unmerited gift to an adulterous spouse. Not killing an adulterer/adulteress is a mercy according to OT teaching–see Deut 22:22 (and likewise, I would say not divorcing is a mercy). This matters as it goes to the heart of the problem of pride in the adulterer/adulteress. Without this fundamental understanding of the situation, I doubt the unfaithful spouse will succeed in not repeating their adulterous sin later down the road.

      Another point: forgiveness and divorce are not mutually exclusive. I forgive my ex-wife, but I am divorced from her. We are all called to forgive regardless of the response of the other as Christians. However, we are not called to reconcile always as such an endeavor requires both persons for it to happen. Furthermore, reconciliation and divorce are not mutually exclusive either. Reconciliation meaning a ceasing of harsh tensions between two parties resulting in a peaceful relationship. This is obtainable after a divorce. However, if one party continues to sin by lying and denying, this is not obtainable due to said party’s sinful choices. Such a party is choosing to further rupture the relationship.

      Finally, I fail to see how one can take adultery seriously without REQUIRING proof of repentance via concrete actions and words BEFORE full reconciliation/restoration. Anything less suggests it is not such a big problem and may actually serve to enable the adulterer/aduletress to continue sinning.

      God calls us to be holy as He is holy (see 1 Peter 1:15). I suggest taking adultery seriously requires the holiness issues be addressed. We are to be a holy people. Offering a cheap, false restoration without dealing with the adultery does not do Christ’s name a service. And it does not protect the vulnerable who have been wronged through adulterous betrayals.

      I am all for being a people who forgive, take adultery seriously, and restore marriages. However, I will not sacrifice God’s call for holiness or the spiritual/emotional well-being of the vulnerable for the appearance of restored/”intact” marriages. God calls us to something higher. He calls us to the real deal. Repentance is not optional for God’s people.

    2. Lightning- “Can you imagine if Christians were known as people who take adultery seriously AND YET when the sin is committed can reconcile, regardless of who was at fault and who is ‘deserving’ of forgiveness?”

      Mr. Lightning, I will be blunt in saying that you sound like someone that has never lived the pain and destruction of adultery. It also sounds like you’re trying to simplify a complex situation by saying that faithful spouses just need to reconcile and forgive more, that they’re not doing enough of it or doing it well enough. Thus putting the responsibility of any failure on the faithful spouse. That is the very mentality that this site is trying to break. That doesn’t seem to mesh well with you also saying “I am with you that adultery is sin, is evil, is grounds for divorce.” It is unfair to say that there is grounds for divorce in the case of adultery and then still hold the faithful spouse up to the expectation that they’re supposed to reconcile and forgive and let bygones be bygones just like that. You are holding up a double standard.

      No one here has said that forgiveness and reconciliation are weaknesses. If that’s the understanding you have taken away I encourage you to reread the posts and the subsequent comments. It’s quite the opposite. It is indeed a powerful witness to be able to restore a marriage after adultery has taken place. Successful restoration however, is the exception, not the rule. DM has flat out mentioned in his posts that is up to each person to decide whether staying or divorcing is the better option in their own case. Futhermore, your logic seems to suggest that forgiveness and divorce cannot coincide. That is not the case at all. I will also point out that “reconciliation” is “a restoration of friendly terms.” Reconciliation gets thrown out to mean staying married when the actual definition is far from it. A change in vocabulary is needed. Restoration is a better word that I think would represent the meaning that’s commonly intended.

      I will point you to the comments shared on each of the posts on this blog, as well as to all the comments on Chump Lady (be warned she does have a potty mouth). For every 1 person you find that did not initially chose the path of forgiveness and restoration (those are rare) you will find 30+ more that did. It’s not that the faithful spouse isn’t choosing it. RIC (Reconciliation Industrial Complex) all but ensures that the faithful spouse will indeed initially choose the path toward restoration. The problem is that the cheating spouse continues to cheat, nullifying any chance for restoration. You cannot restore anything while the affair partners are still present and the cheater still says they’ve done nothing wrong. It’s the pastors, counselors, friends, family members etc shaming the faithful spouse for being “bitter” and “unforgiving” b/c the cheating spouse is “remorseful” but in reality only giving lip service. It’s those same people blaming the faithful spouse for causing the adultery in the first place with the “shared responsibility” mindset, whereas the cheater never fixes the issues that caused them to cheat in the first place so they keep cheating. When the faithful spouse does choose divorce they’re shamed for being “unbiblical” even though they have every right to divorce. They were not the ones who violated the marriage covenant. The marriage ended when the other spouse chose to cheat and let in others that should not be in marital bed, ever. Those are all part of RIC and RIC is the #1 approach that’s used with infidelity by marriage counselors and pastors alike. Sites like CL and Divorce Minister are rare. For the handful of sites like ours that dare to call adultery for the sin it is there are 100+ more that say otherwise. Do a search on the internet and the results will tell you just that.

      I also suggest reading this article for further input: http://thechristianpundit.org/2014/01/22/when-divorce-is-good-and-holy/.

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